February 2011 blows by, leaving February 2010's snow behind

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 9:46 PM

With temperatures reminiscent of spring predicted for Sunday and Monday, it appeared almost certain that this month will be distinguished for the snow that didn't fall and for the contrast with the February of a year ago.

This month, only a half-inch of snow has been measured at Reagan National Airport. In the past 50 years, less snow has fallen here in February only 13 times.

The normal amount of February snowfall is 5.2 inches, according to National Weather Service records.

The difference in snowfall between this February and last February is 31.6 inches. It appeared highly likely that the snow gap between this February and its year-ago predecessor will be greater than for any such pair of months since snow recordkeeping began in 1888.

Of four independent forecasts, none indicated any possibility of snow here before the month ends.

The National Weather Service predicted that Sunday's highs would be in the low 60s, and Monday's around 70. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang forecast called for Sunday highs near 60, and Monday highs near 70.

Based on forecasts, rain appears likely before the month ends on Monday, but not snow.

Measurable snow fell at Reagan on three days this month. A tenth of an inch was recorded Feb. 9. Two-tenths was measured on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22.

Dulles International Airport got a little more snow than National, but not much. The Dulles figure was 0.7 inches.

Washington made up in wind for what it lacked in snow. On Feb. 19, the average wind speed was 21 mph. A 53-mph gust was measured at the airport.

On Friday, the average speed was not as great - 15.5 mph. But the peak gust was stronger - 58 mph. Saturday was notably less windy, with peak gusts at 21 mph.

There have been other windy days this month, including Feb. 14, when the average was 17.5 mph.

At Dulles, the peak gust on Friday was clocked at 59 mph. That was the strongest at either airport so far this month.

It also appeared that this February, unlike February a year ago, and unlike this January, would be a warm month. The average temperature this month has been more than three degrees above normal. Last month it was 1.3 degrees below. Last February was almost 4 degrees below normal.

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